Forster recognized a dimension in Dostoyevsky and Melville which opens out beyond plot and characterization to give access to mystical and profound regions. It is an element in his work that can often be unsettling to the unwary reader, for poetic and visionary elements mingle with social comedy and realistic characterization. In his section on symbolism Roger Ebbatson probes the significance of the "echo" in the Marabar Caves, which so deliberately upsets the equilibrium of the novel, and, in her commentary on themes, Catherine Neale discusses the longing for unifying love in the novel and the defeat of human aspirations. Background information is also provided, as is detailed comment on structure and characters.
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